Josh Rzepka – Baroque Music for Trumpet = By TORELLI; PURCELL; HANDEL; NERUDA; TELEMANN; VIVALDI

by | Mar 20, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Josh Rzepka – Baroque Music for Trumpet = TORELLI: Concerto in D, “Estienne Roger”; PURCELL: Sonata in D; HANDEL: “Let the Bright Seraphim” from Samson; NERUDA: Concerto in E-flat; TELEMANN: Concerto in D; VIVALDI: Concerto in C for Two Trumpets – Josh Rzepka, trumpet/ Rebecca Freshwater, soprano/ Christopher Toth, organ/ Orch. cond. by Genevieve LeClair – [], 50:42 **1/2:
This is a vanity production from trumpeter Josh Rzepka, a player who is 26 years old and a graduate from Boston University and the Oberlin Conservatory, and who cross-pollinates the realms of classical music and jazz. The selections here are quite intelligently arranged, and we get some breaks from the standard trumpet/orchestra dichotomy with the inclusion of the Handel piece and the Neruda work. But I am not too enamored of the studio ambiance, too antiseptic and resonant, making even the well-playing orchestra sound too monochromatic and slightly sterile. Ms. Freshwater’s soprano is also too wobbly and uncertain in the fast passages—just compare this to Gerard Schwarz and Judith Blegen on their ancient Columbia recording from many years ago to see how this piece really can sound.
The Neruda piece (with organ) is the best thing on this disc, the most natural sound (recorded in a church), and well-considered all the way round. But honesty compels me to say that I do not believe Rzepka is quite ready for prime time; he does many things well, but there are certain insecurities in his technique that need addressing, including a “growling” sound to his tone that is very obvious, and some uncertainty in his attacks. I don’t want to belabor these points, but comparison to the top trumpeters playing today illuminate these shortcomings.
Nevertheless, there is a high musicianship at work here, and his interpretative felicities are many, such that this album can still be enjoyed. I hope to hear more from him again four or five years down the road. And the fold-out “poster” of him in the middle of the notes—just who is that aimed at?
— Steven Ritter

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